This week our focus is on gratitude. 

On behalf of the Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to pause for a moment to center on being thankful.

  • What are you thankful for in this moment? 
  • How will you show your gratitude today?

 Here are some inspirational thoughts to guide us in our practice of gratitude:

Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say.  I say that one a lot.  Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.                               Alice Walker

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist merely of words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.        Henri Frederic Amiel

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.            William Ward

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.      Melody Beattie

I believe deeply that gratitude is an essential component of positive living.  Gratitude is healing and transforming.  It cannot be imposed; gratitude can be nurtured and modeled.  Gratitude makes us more fully who God created each of us to be.  It brings us perspective.

Be intentional about living in gratitude.  Let us look for ways to show our gratitude to God (Higher Power) and to one another.

Don’t forget to do something kind for yourself in gratitude for the gift of your life and the unique person you are.

On Wednesday of this week UMHC and BCC held a merger celebration.  Some of you may know that for many years UMHC has used a heart as part of its logo.  The picture above includes a heart and it reminded me of how grateful we are to be working together as one.  We are grateful for the past years of dedicated service through our organizations; we give thanks for the promise of the future together and we express gratitude for the present partnership that will lead to impacting more children, more families, and more communities.

I conclude with one verse of scripture from the early Church:  “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)



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We Respond with Empathy

Good morning – Greetings on this beautiful day!

On behalf of the Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to take a moment and breathe… center yourself in compassion and kindness.

This week’s theme of our 40 Days of Positive Actions and Thoughts  is related to our third core value:  we respond with empathy.

I offer this quote to get you thinking and to encourage conversations with one another.

“Let me
hold the door for you.
I may have
never walked
in your shoes,
but I can see
your soles are worn,
your strength is torn
under the weight of a story
I have never lived before.
Let me hold the door for you.
After all you’ve walked through,
It’s the least I can do.”
-Morgan Harper Nichols

Responding with empathy requires effort and intentional action.  It is important to remember that feeling empathy and compassion for others and ourselves must lead to action if we are to have an impact.

I offer this prayer from a Native American tradition:

Oh, Great Spirit,
Help me to remain calm and strong
In the face of all that comes toward me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
Help me seek pure thoughts and act
With the intention of helping others.
Help me find compassion
Without empathy overwhelming me.
-Great Spirit Prayer

For those who wish to turn to Christian scriptures, I offer a reminder that empathy and compassion are at the heart of following Jesus Christ.

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Galatians 5:14)

Jesus’ teaching is grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures.  For example – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Leviticus 19:18

I close with this thought-provoking quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who gave his life for his Christian faith as an anti-Nazi dissident:

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do,
And more in the light of what they suffer.


We hold you in our prayers and compassionate intentions.


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Board of Child Care President and CEO Laurie Anne Spagnola responds to the 2019 United Methodist Church General Conference Session


Greetings, everyone!  I hope that my note finds you well.  I am writing to catch you up on a few developments within the United Methodist Church.

Have you ever had a really good friend that made a decision or held a belief that you didn’t particularly care for?  Was it hard for you to understand their thinking?  Were you able to maintain your friendship still, despite the difference?  The Board of Child Care (BCC) and the United Methodist Church (UMC) are friends.  The Board of Child Care (BCC) and the United Methodist Church (UMC) are separate, but connected, sharing a deep heritage of the United Methodist tradition.

Some of you may be hearing news from a recent meeting of the worldwide United Methodist Church.  At this meeting, delegates debated issues relating to the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons and the acceptance of same-gender marriages in the UMC and narrowly approved certain changes in church rules which we find deeply disturbing and hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community.   There are some appeals occurring at the moment and It will take a while for things to settle into place as the Church continues to plot its future.

BCC groans from this decision.  While I am grateful for the support the BCC receives from the UMC, BCC believes in inclusion in every regard.  BCC is committed to our core values of safety, integrity, empathy, and impact. I want to assure you of our absolute adherence to the core value of safety and that BCC “values life, spirit, and health above all else” and this includes all persons regardless of gender identification and sexual orientation.  BCC practices a non-discrimination policy in terms of the individuals we serve as well as our employment practices for talent, and there will be absolutely no changes to that policy.

BCC and its Spiritual Life team is committed to honoring all persons as created by God with inherent worth and provides guidance for persons of various faith traditions while encouraging a diversity of spiritual expressions.  From these beliefs, we will not stray.  We hold fast to BCC’s core values and our purpose of enriching communities one family at a time.  I delight and value the diversity of ALL persons who make our BCC community vibrant and strong.  BCC will continue to learn and grow about all diversities and advocate for social justice with pride and determination.


BCC values everyone’s voice around the table – thanks for all you do to contribute to our special organization.


Laurie Anne Spagnola, MSW

President and CEO

Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church, Inc.

3300 Gaither Road

Baltimore, MD 21244-2999

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40 Days Centering Moment

Congratulations!  You are halfway to the goal of 40 days of positive actions and positive thoughts.  Keep up the great effort!

I am grateful that we have today – another opportunity for kindness and for positive actions embodying our values of safety and integrity.

More positivity to come in the next 20 days ….

Kindness in words creates confidence.

Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.

Kindness in giving creates love.

-Lao Tzu

When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world. 

-Harold Kushner

Peace to you this day as you strive to be kind to yourself, kind to others and kind to all God’s creation – Stacey

Rev. Stacey Nickerson
Director of Church and Community Engagement
Board Of Child Care of The United Methodist Church, Inc.

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States face opportunities and challenges implementing Family First Prevention Services Act

On March 19, 2019, Representatives (D) Democrat, Gwen Moore and Republican (R) Jackie Walorski held a Capitol Hill Roundtable discussion on how three states are implementing the (FFSA) Family First Prevention Services Act’s comprehensive law.

Laurie Anne Spagnola, President, and CEO, Board of Child Care, Maryland was one of three panelists selected including David Whelan, Vice President, Child Well Being, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; and Sharon Pierce, President, and CEO, The Villages of Indiana, Inc; to share their unique perspectives on FFSA. Also, the roundtable was organized to better inform future policy considerations, and to serve as a resource.

The Family First Prevention Services Act  (H.R. 5456 (P.L. 115-123) was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This Act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, providing services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster care by incentivizing states to reduce the placement of children in congregate care.


Click here for a Family First Prevention Services Act  Fact Sheet  


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Meet Aleesha “Get er done” Gladden

Every day the nation’s 650,000 social workers act as advocates, champions and leaders who make our society a better place to live. Today we invite you to meet Aleesha Gladden, who has been a therapist at our Strawbridge School for a little over two years.

Aleesha’s passion for the holistic care and well-being of her students comes through in the work she puts into meeting her students’ needs. Just this school year, she has facilitated multiple college tours for our graduating juniors and seniors to prepare them for life after Strawbridge. She also successfully advocated for potentially homeless youth to receive housing at BCC and has worked with outside agencies to ensure her students receive the benefits and services that they need. We are consistently impressed with her attitude and willingness to go above and beyond for her students. She is also the team’s official Self-Care Queen!

         Click here to see career opportunities to work with Aleesha Gladden. 



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Meet Board of Child Care’s Christina Wolfe

Every day the nation’s 650,000 social workers act as advocates, champions and leaders who make our society a better place to live.

The Board of Child Care discovered a rare gem of talent in Care Team Coordinator; Christina Wolfe.  Hailing from the “coal country” of the southern Appalachian region many of our WV residents call home, Christina defies stereotypes with her poise, professionalism and obvious intelligence.

She has been driven to excellence from her first days as a therapist within our residential treatment program for youth with co-existing ID/DD and behavioral health diagnosis.  This strong work ethic and dedication to quality care for those special youth whom we serve launched her into her present leadership role as Care Team Coordinator for that program within her first two years with the agency.

She has continued to consistently carry a caseload of a few of the most challenging clients in that program while fulfilling her administrative and supervisory responsibilities.  Christina, having recognized the dire need for quality foster homes in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, also serves as a regional PRIDE trainer equipping new foster families with the tools to become Trauma Informed Caregivers.  This additional service to our community has “paid forward” as we have been able to match youth discharging from our Campolina Way program into the enhanced foster family pool made possible by Christina’s dedication to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable citizens of our state.

Thank you Christina for all that you do!

Click here for career opportunities to work with Christina Wolfe. 

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Centering Moment: Act with Integrity

On behalf of the entire Spiritual Life Team, I invite you to spend a few moments in intentional positive thinking.

We have completed one quarter (10 days) of our commitment to 40 Days of Positive Actions!

Thank you for striving with us in this journey.  I am grateful for each one of you.

How are you doing with daily acts of gratitude, kindness and positive thinking?  I hope that you are noticing some changes in yourself.  Perhaps you are like me and have experienced some challenges to focusing on being positive.

At times, I am sure that we all have lost focus.  When this happens, gently direct your attention back to the positive.  Remember that the more time you spend in positive thinking, the more positive your thinking will be.  In addition, your individual positivity makes a difference for our community.

Our theme for this coming week is based on BCC’s second core value:

Act with Integrity.

We also suggest the action theme of Be Honest.

Integrity is compromised of honesty but also truth, congruity, sincerity, and consistency.  It requires ethics, thoughtfulness, intentionality, principles, coherence and moral rightness.

How would you define or describe integrity?

Consider some of these quotes.

Integrity is doing the right thing even when it is difficult. Anonymous

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Oprah Winfrey

Integrity, the choice between what’s convenient and what’s right. Tony Dungy

Have the courage to say no.  Have the courage to face the truth.  Do the right thing because it is right.  These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. W. Clement Stone

I believe that we live with integrity when our beliefs, words and actions are congruent with who we say we are and who we are in actuality.

Integrity is the difference between just “talking the talk” and “walking the walk.”

I asked a group of our youth to define integrity.  Here was one answer:  “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching and holding yourself accountable when you don’t do the right thing.”

Let’s hold each other accountable with our commitment to positive actions today and this week.

I am grateful for these moments of centering and for your participation.


If you would like some scriptures to consider, please continue reading.

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track. Proverbs 11:3a (The Message)

May integrity and honesty protect me for I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:21 (New Living Translation)

Observe those who have integrity and watch those whose heart is right because the future belongs to persons of peace. Psalm 37:37 (Common English Bible)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter.  Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9


When we live and act with integrity, we will have peace.

Blessings on our week ahead –



Rev. Stacey Nickerson
Director of Church and Community Engagement
Board Of Child Care of The United Methodist Church, Inc.
3300 Gaither Road
Baltimore, MD 21244
(443) 845-4388

Enriching communities, one family at a time.

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I make a commitment to strive for positivity in my life for the next 40 days

Welcome to the first week of 40 Days of Positive Actions and Thoughts!

On Wednesday, everyone in our BCC community was invited to take this pledge:

I make a commitment to strive for positivity in my life for the next 40 days.
I will practice being kind to others as well as to myself.

We begin our positive actions with taking care of ourselves and making sure that we are safe.  I once heard that people training to become Buddhist monks spend the first year of their training learning how to be compassionate with themselves.  In order to care for others effectively, we must first care for ourselves.

Where are you in making yourself a priority?  How do you care for yourself as a whole person – physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, intellectually?

How can you practice being kind to yourself?

In terms of our BCC core values, safety is first.  Safety is our mindset at all times and in all situations.  We work in a trauma-informed way to prepare our environment, ourselves and others.  What can you do this day to help yourself and others be safe?

You can act on increasing your safety and the safety of others wherever you are.  Each one of us impacts the overall environment and we can contribute positively to the safety of our BCC community.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • check around for items that might be a threat to someone’s safety such as a sharp item discarded on the sidewalk
  • deepen trust in your therapeutic relationships
  • introduce yourself to a visitor or a staff/youth you do not know
  • plan for an emergency
  • help a child or young person to talk about how they can contract for safety for themselves

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple:  safety and security.”  -Jodi Rell

Thank you for taking a moment to reflect with me on positivity, particularly in terms of self-care and safety.

For those of you who would like some religious resources, read on for selected scripture verses in the Judeo-Christian traditions.

The most ancient God is a place of safety; the eternal arms are a support. Deuteronomy 33:27

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  God is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.  God is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:3

I will lie down and fall asleep in peace because you alone, God, let me live in safety. Psalm 4:8

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  God is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety. Psalm 16:9

God’s name is a place of protection – good people can run there and be safe. Proverbs 18:10

You can go to God Most High to hide.  You can go to God All-Powerful for protection.  I say to God, “You are my place of safety, my fortress.  My God, I trust in you.” Psalm 91:1-2

As appropriate, I encourage to discuss images of God that help us feel safe and secure in our relationship with God.  The scriptures give us many starting points for discussion.

May we work together with God’s blessing to increase our sense of safety as individuals and as a community.  May we be kind to ourselves and then extend that kindness to others.

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